how would you define love, quiet chocolate eyes?

You sent me a message on Facebook out of nowhere. It was a regular afternoon. I was doing nothing, feeling nothing, just enjoying not being at work, not being anywhere or doing anything. But all this nothingness evaporated when I got the message. Time stopped then buckled in turning now into a living memory.

Your message incited little tears in my consciousness, ripping open a portal to the past. Suddenly I was back in a cold room, shivering. Waking up alone and hungry, my underwear gone. I saw it on the dirty floor next to party trash. I didn’t want it anymore. I didn’t have a car. There was no one to call. Maybe there was, maybe I had more friends then, but you don’t think you do in that thin grey morning. There is no one to call because back then I shame-sheathed my eyes. My life was a constant hollowing, running away from something that was never chasing me.

I had to puke; I needed to sleep, but I had to get out of there. I could not bear getting sick in that cold, friendless place. I had to get away from these sleeping people and the stale, sad aftermath of our lonely attempt at fun. My shoes were in another room next to a chubby man clinging to an area rug for warmth. I felt lucky to find them. Felt a little more like myself already.

I’d walked home, stopping to puke on the side of the road twice. I was afraid of being seen by anyone at all, much less anyone who would recognize me. I wanted to disappear, but my sick body reminded me that I couldn’t, that I was painfully alive. Every hangover is a rebirth, an illusion of transformation, a limbo of self.

walking home.

I’d slept it off. My head hurt for days. I forgot. Shoved that night under the clutter of my mind, and moved on. There have been far worse things in my life, but right now I’m back there listening to someone I don’t even know’s mixtape and taking another and another and another red dixie cup of cheap sweet wine I didn’t buy. But now I know some of the rest of it because you decided to tell me as part of your healing. You wanted to make amends, be relieved, be set free.

But I never asked to be pulled back to a cold winter I’d left behind. Now, you’re asking for forgiveness for a violation I don’t even remember, using my mind like a rag to cleanse yourself. You’re on a journey I didn’t ask to go on with your meetings, with waking up and taking all those little seconds one at a time until you’ve gone another whole day without drinking.

Then the clock resets, and you do it again. And to help you get through another one, another clear day to count, to rack up — to get another notch, another chip, you reached out to me so you could let me know details. So you could introduce new dimensions to my memory, and give me heavier stories to carry. Like if you gave me these heavy thoughts, maybe they would leave your mind. And there would be another day without a drink, courtesy of me and my forgiveness.

You can check off another day, another sin. And the seconds tick by, sober and yearning, and almost pure from the constant assault of living. Maybe you could forgive yourself. This was never about me, thought, it’s about you and your journey. Your self improvement. A better you.

The statue of limitations is not up on this in our state. I didn’t think about doing this before. I didn’t even know who or what or why. But now I have details. A confession. I’ve got the screenshots, your information, your smiling sunshine selfies of a life reimagined — and my finger’s on the screen like it’s a trigger, reaching for my own version of relief.

If you’d like to see more fiction like this, please share this story. You can also support fiction on this blog via Patreon.